CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Three friends who say they saw their friend fatally shot on Saturday night think it was a hate crime.
They said they heard the man in custody shouting anti-Islamic slurs in the moments before shooting 32-year-old Mustafa Ayoubi.
Police would not say Monday if 33-year-old Dustin Passarelli of Plainfield said any racial slurs Saturday night, but Ayoubi’s three friends told News 8 they heard what Passarelli said loud and clear. IMPD arrested Passarelli on a preliminary murder charge, but the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday it had not filed formal charges.
IMPD said detectives believe it started with road rage between Ayoubi, who worked at a used-car shop, and Passarelli about 7:30 p.m. Saturday on southbound Interstate 465 near the West 38th Street exit. IMPD detectives have said they would like to speak with anyone who may have seen the road rage incident.
Neither the victim nor the suspect lived at the apartments where the shooting happened, police said. Ayoubi had been going to Lakeside Crossing at Eagle Creek apartments to meet three friends, Usman Ashraf, Shazad Jarwar and Niraj Bhutt, and then go out with them to play pool Saturday.
Ashraf recalled what Passarelli said. “He starts saying ‘You are all foreigners. You have to get out of our country,’ and that’s when I said, ‘We’re all American citizens. This is our country,'”
Ayoubi immigrated from Afghanistan in 2001. His three friends said the situation continued to escalate.
“You could feel the hate inside of him,” said Ashraf, adding that he heard Passarelli make inappropriate comments about Islam.
“I said to him, ‘Respect. Please, respect,'” Bhutt said.
Ayoubi’s three friends said Passarelli also shined a laser in Ayoubi’s face.
“Mustafa turned around, he started running and, instead of shooting him once or twice, he (Passarelli) emptied the whole clip on his back,” Ashraf said as he described the scene as a hate crime.
Ayoubi was lying in the road. His friends said Passarelli was out of his car with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.
“We didn’t run; we started crawling because he was just looking for us.” Ashraf said.
Police got there soon after. Ayoubi’s friends said saw their friend on the ground and a pastor performing CPR. He died soon after.
“He wanted what everyone wants in this country, to make something out of our lives, work really hard day and night to make a good life for our family,” Ashraf said.
Ayoubi’s three friends said they hope lawmakers create a hate crimes law. Indiana is one of five states without one. A bill advanced Monday at the Statehouse. The three friends said the law could act as a deterrent for some people and properly punish those whose crimes qualify.